Welp. Here’s something unexpected, by way of Braves MLB.com reporter Mark Bowman…
The #Braves have hired Kevin Seitzer as their new hitting coach. An official announcement could be made as early as today.
— Mark Bowman (@mlbbowman) October 27, 2014
I’ve never been one to worry much about coaches, but this is certainly a peculiar one, innit? Kevin Seitzer, who had a relationship with John Gibbons from their days on staff of the Kansas City Royals and was presumed to be a “Gibby guy,” if you’ll forgive the phrase, has indeed parted ways with the club. Weird.
This means that the Jays will be moving on to their fourth hitting coach in four years, apparently. Sort of: Dwayne Murphy’s last year with the title was 2012; Chad Mottola took over in 2013, though Murphy was still around as first base coach and functioned as a second hitting coach; Seitzer took over in 2014, and now we’ll have a new guy! That… uh… can’t be good, can it? (Is it necessarily bad, though? You’d think you’d prefer stability, but let’s not pretend we know how much, if at all, that matters).
Most members of the coaching staff go year-to-year, so it’s almost certain that Seitzer was free to talk to any club about any vacancy they wanted — just like the Jays were free talk to ex-Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long, which they apparently did, according to a report earlier in the month. So for the moment, we don’t know if the parting was mutual, if the Jays weren’t happy with him, if he wasn’t happy here, if he didn’t like the overtures towards other coaches, if Atlanta simply offered him more money, if he valued the chance to be a bit closer to home (Seitzer still lives in Kansas City, according to reports from last winter about him working with Ryan Goins), or… what.
We really don’t know anything here, frankly. And it would be irresponsible — not to mention kinda boring — to speculate. Maybe if something else comes to light?
Bowman notes in a piece at his blog that “Seitzer has ties to both [Braves president of baseball operations John] Hart and Braves president John Schuerholz. He concluded his career with the Indians, while Hart was serving as Cleveland’s general manager, and made his Major League debut in 1986 with the Royals while Schuerholz was serving as Kansas City’s GM.” So… that’s something?
Here’s what I wrote back when reports surfaced that the Jays were talking to Long:
We could take the opportunity here to sift through the noise of the Jays hitters’ 2014 performances and try to pull in some kind of signal that explains the job their hitting coach did, but even with a massive research project, it would be hard to imagine finding anything conclusive.
Yeah, Jose Bautista used the opposite field more, Brett Lawrie looked like he was coming around before injury hit, and Adam Lind traded power for more doubles (relative to his number of plate appearances) and fewer strikeouts. But in general the guys who you’d expect to be good were good, and the guys you’d expect to be bad were bad.
The team struggled to score runs in August, but it was with three of their most dangerous hitters either out or rushed back into action.
Seitzer seemed ineffective at getting through to Colby Rasmus, and his main off-season protege, Ryan Goins, didn’t hit any better than expected, but… that’s Ryan Goins and Colby Rasmus.
He was there, and the Jays did what they did, but it’s hard to say from here whether he did anything particularly well or particularly poorly. Those who worked with him will surely have a better idea, but that doesn’t necessarily have a lot to do with whether a coach will come back either — ask last year’s hitting coach.
I dunno. Just add getting a new hitting coach to the pile of things Anthopoulos needs to do this winter, I guess.
So… there’s that.
Mike Wilner clears up some of our questions:
— Mike Wilner (@Wilnerness590) October 27, 2014
So the parting of the ways doesn’t appear to have been mutual, then. There was clearly some desire among both parties to have Seitzer continue on as the Jays’ hitting coach.
Interestingly, it apparently didn’t fall apart because the Braves swooped in with a better offer, eith. To wit:
— Mike Wilner (@Wilnerness590) October 27, 2014
I mean, that’s fair. The Jays shouldn’t be expected to pay any cost demanded by an employee. Especially not when it’s someone as inconsequential as the hitting coach. But obviously, given the whole fucking money thing when it comes to this club, people aren’t going to have much trouble trying to put two and two together on this and saying the Jays simply cheaped out and are a joke of a revolving door when it comes to their coaching staff, and to paying their staff.
I don’t think they’re necessarily right — the issue is, at the very least, more nuanced than that — but I can’t exactly say I blame people for going there, either.
Clearly this did have something to do with money, but every instance of the club choosing the least expensive path isn’t a screaming indicator that Rogers is clamping down on payroll and assuring their future doom. It just might be nice if it didn’t always seem to be the same fucking story with this team, eh?
However, I don’t know if I believe Seitzer was ever really Alex’s guy anyway, and more importantly, I also think there’s a perfectly legitimate argument to be made that, unless you’ve got someone you think is really exceptional, one hitting coach really isn’t worth that much more than the next. Especially when you’re talking about the big league level, where there are a lot of guys vying for very few opportunities, and where you’re mostly working with fully-formed hitters anyway (or much closer to it, usually). I likely wouldn’t be quite so flippant about it if we were talking about the architects of organizational philosophy and guys doing heavy player development work — not that I’d know enough to make a judgment there either — but a big league hitting coach? Meh. I mean, sure, on principle I find the “there’s a lineup of people who will do it for this much if you say no, so you’d better take what we give you” corporate mindset a rather offensive way of grinding people to dust, but that’s how they do. Tempting as it might be to read more into the money aspect, I’m not sure it’s much more than just that.